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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  January 3, 2012 2:00pm-3:00pm PST

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and the best way to wake up your fami. [ snoring ] i didn't say i could keep him up. ♪ it doesn't get better than this ♪ the politics of destruction. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in des moines, iowa. this is dresden in 1945, following the intensive allied bombing campaign in world war ii, and this is des moines following an equally intensive negative tv campaign. the campaign has been carried out by wealthy supporters of mitt romney.
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a month ago, newt was at 33%, this weekend he was down to 12%. the only justice here is personal, that gingrich himself has been a 1,000% behind the court decision, citizens united that made this kind of weapon legal. the question is, is romney's only real threat for the nomination now dead, or can he bounce back in the coming twin debates in new hampshire? can newt gingrich resurrect himself one more time, or is romney's only serious obstacle to the nomination that pair of ricks that remain in the race, santorum and perry. with bachmann in trouble here and huntsman hanging on in new hampshire, that's what this contest has come down to. so is gingrich able to carry on the fight, or has the bombing of des moines killed him for good. chuck todd's is msnbc's political director and chief white house correspondent, and john heilemann is national affairs editor for "new york" magazine, and of course, an msnbc political analyst. chuck, let's just talk about what were the two leading candidates coming into iowa?
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gingrich and mitt romney. will that battle continue after this or has newt gingrich been mortally wounded here? >> by the way, rick perry said today, omaha beach, so the world war ii metaphor -- >> i think it's more dresden. >> i think gingrich is determined to get a little payback in new hampshire, a little bit. call it channeling an inner bullworth, call it dull '88, where dull famously said, stop lying about my record. newt almost did that today in that cbs interview with our first hand, norah o'donnell. i think he's looking for that payback. he's a little bitter, because he tasted it. i don't know if he ever really believed that he had a shot at the nomination when he got it, and then, he got there. he was reaching for it and he realized he could touch it, and then it all collapsed. so there's the bitterness. >> but objectively, chuck, we've watched an air campaign here of destruction, that's been about $3 million. it's basically destroyed gingrich in the polls. meanwhile, mitt romney has
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walked around this state, la looking like a million bucks, with his hands clean, basically singing "america the beautiful" without any negativity. >> but everybody had the same rules. >> but these are new rules. >> but newt gingrich was somebody who has his own set of wealthy friends, who have helped him with his political career and his political 501c-3s in the past. so he just department have the resources and the infrastructure. this is a presidential politics is a zero sum game. mitt romney has built an infrastructure and a campaign for the long -- look at him today. he's like an aircraft carrier, in some ways, compared to the others. here we're talking about, can santorum get momentum out of here to go to new hampshire and move on? meanwhile, mitt romney's announcing a campaign schedule this week that new hampshire and south carolina and putting on a near $1 million tv ad by -- >> so he's an aircraft carrier and they're pt boats. let me ask you about newt gingrich today. because gingrich has a freddy krueger quality.
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he's willing to come back and back and back. can he come back with a knife on issues like abortion rights and paying for abortions up in massachusetts? we didn't even know about that until recently. that's been ripped out into the public. can he keep up the fight, even though he's been basically brought to maybe fourth or fifth place, possible tonight, we don't know. >> i think he's bound and determined to do that. i think to chuck's point, the thing that hurt gingrich so much, when his campaign collapsed back in may and june, it was months then when he couldn't raise money. but now he's got some money. he raised $9 million in the fourth quarter of this year. >> does he have super pac money that can hit romney as nastily as romney hit him, without his fingerprints on it? >> i think that that almost doesn't matter, because what the question now is is, what does the conservative movement do about mitt romney? if mitt romney wins in iowa, and new hampshire becomes a gimme for him, south carolina, the state that has determined every republican nominee in the modern
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era, is going to be -- you think this is dresden, that's going to be hiroshima. and gingrich is determined in these four debates. there's two in new hampshire and two in south carolina. he's personally going to do something to romney that no one has done. romney has not had a single negative ad run against him in this entire year. he's never -- he's never faced a sustained negative assault, and the question is, does -- and this is a question that everyone has asked for a year. does mitt romney have a glass jar or not? we don't know yet. newt gingrich is going to test that. >> here he is unleashing as what he's probably going to use as his message. here he is in an interview with cbs today. gingrich called out romney for the negative advertising and what he says is romney's lack of candor. let's listen here for the possible campaign ahead. >> i have to ask you, are you calling mitt romney a liar? >> yes. >> you're calling mitt romney a liar? >> well, you seem shocked by it, but yes. this is a man whose staff created the pac, his millionaire
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friends fund the pack. he pretends he has nothing to do with the pac. it's bologna. he's not telling the american people the truth. i don't think he's being candid, and that will be a major issue from here on out, for the rest of his campaign. the country has to decide. do you really want a massachusetts moderate who won't level with you to run against barack obama, who frankly will just tear him apart. i mean, he will not survive against the obama machine. >> now, this has been compared, guys, to what bob dole said, george herbert walker bush. but there's a real difference on two levels. one is, he's not claiming that in this case, romney's lying about his record, gingrich's, he's lying about his own reality. he's claiming to be a conservative, when everybody in massachusetts knows he was pro-abortion in terms of this funding bill we didn't even know about, in terms of putting planned parenthood people on this commission, in terms of health care. everything, he was a moderate. that's why he got elected to massachusetts. >> it's funny, i do think something did change tonight with mitt romney, and that is,
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because you heard rick santorum's been talking about health care and saying, that's one of the biggest issues i want to discuss. by the way, the massachusetts health care plan was sort of the arc -- was sort of the model for president obama's plan. and he wants to go after that. gingrich wants to go after -- i do think after tonight, for the first time in this campaign cycle, mitt romney will then be a collective target of rick perry, of newt gingrich, of rick santorum, in a way that he hasn't happened before. santorum will be doing it fully in new hampshire with newt a little bit. perry will be doing it fully in south carolina. but i tell you, you keep splintering this conservative vote, and all of a sudden we're going to look up and realize mitt romney's done something he didn't do four years ago. mitt romney may win iowa. mitt romney may win new hampshire. >> if he keeps winning with 25%, sooner or later the conservatives are going to realize they're about to outsource their nomination. >> this is the question. this is what romney wants to set up. he loves this outcome. if santorum is the main conservative coming out of iowa,
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they think that he can replicate the iowa result in south carolina, splinter conservative movement -- >> let's wait until tonight and see how good that result is. if he only gets 25 tonight, does he want to replicate that? >> he may be able to win south carolina with 25, 26, 27% if it's splintered enough. that's when the question becomes, is there enough of a conservative movement that has influence that says, we must stop romney. does it rise up and put pressure on either gingrich or perry to back out. i don't know the answer to that question, but that is key. >> let me ask you this. is there any indication that the conservative base of the republican party, today, we'll see it tonight with clarity, is moving toward being comfortable with mitt romney? >> yes. and in fact, this is the part of what i've noticed in our polling over the the last two months was, for instance, when newt gingrich was surging, the second choice of gingrich supporters was mitt romney. not rick perry, not rick santorum. >> how do you explain that? he's not a conservative. >> what it is, you explain it where they're getting comfortable, they are okay with him. look, i talked to plenty of
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iowans over the last -- john and i have both been out here a week, three or four days longer than most of the crowd that has come in. when you see some of them, you say, i guess i'm for romney, i'll be okay with that. no. >> what's that tell you? >> that tells me that he might not win tonight. the casual voter doesn't remember to come at the assigned time, and show up there. if this were a primary, it would be over. okay? romney would win by ten points if this were a primary. because over a 13-hour period during the day, the, i guess i'm for romney voter would show up. >> so you agree that romney's kind of catching on, acceptable now, not in love with him? >> i think it's gradually happening, and it's actually -- he's also doing surprisingly well with evangelicals here in the state. i think he's second or third among evangelical voters. >> maybe you've seen some numbers. we don't know any numbers, but the question everybody figures tonight, it's going to be one of three people tonight. we all figure based on all the polling, and it's been pretty consistent, romney, ron paul,
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and rick santorum. and so the three of them. now, let's ask about -- we know romney may be catching on, because we've gone through him. does rick santorum become a real threat to him? >> i don't think so. >> nationwide. >> i don't think so, but, this is a guy that has -- can speak to the blue-collar populist streak that is inside this republican party, that buchanan was able to grab, and at least make some noise for a while. so he could do better than people think in new hampshire. >> what about ron paul? is he always going to be the libertarian and the anti-war guy in a party that's basically not libertarian and pro-war? >> yes. and i think, look, i think he's the candidate with the highest floor and the lowest ceiling. and we're going to see, he's going to be somewhere tonight, i guarantee, somewhere between 18% and 23%. he's never going to get more than 25%. >> is he a leader of the republican party or not? >> no, he's a leader of the libertarian movement in the country. >> but mitt romney doesn't want to chase him out of the party.
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the whole game is going to be, chase him out of the party and somehow get ron paul running as a third party. he wants to keep him in the tent. i think it's interesting. notice how mitt romney has been very careful. he doesn't attack paul with the fervor that everybody else does. >> he doesn't attack santorum either. >> always thinking about november. >> he would like a three-way race right until the end? >> no, no, he doesn't want that for very long. i think what you're likely to see is jerry brown/bill clinton come february, march, and april, which is, in this case, ron paul/mitt romney, where romney just cumulates all the delegates, but ron paul hangs around a while, grabs a caucus or too. >> one of the most important thing facing mitt romney -- >> i've got joe scarborough, our colleague coming on here later in the program, on "hardball" this hour, and i want to ask him something. he has said, basically, if mitt romney gets the nomination, the door is open, basically, to a third party. because he's too centrist, too liberal, if you will, by conservative standards, to be their standard-bearer. >> look, it is weird that the republican party, which has become an incredibly
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conservative party, that one over the house of representatives in 2010 on the backs of the tea party. that is the kind of party it is now. mitt romney does not fit that party like a glove. >> so what happens? >> so it's hard -- it's a historical matter. it seems strange that he could be the nominee given -- >> doesn't that leave a lot of room, maybe 30%, 35% of the populist to his right? >> it could. i think it's more somewhere between 15 to 20. it is a smaller portion. but, look, 5 to 8% would cost him, would be a landslide for president obama. landslide! >> i keep thinking, if somebody could get into the national debates, the three of them, come this fall, the commission debates -- >> up to 15%? >> it's pretty high. can somebody meet that? >> we'll see. this americans elect, there's a lot of egoes running around. we'll see. i guess i don't buy that anybody will -- >> and it is explicitly designed to create -- i mean, you have to have a balanced ticket, ideologically. you can't have a conservative win a conservative. that's not what the americans
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elect thing -- >> it's harder to take advantage -- >> for a year i've been saying on this program, i can't see a bunch of red-hot tea party people down in tampa come this september, when it's 100 degree humidity, 100-degree temperature in some big auditorium, going crazy over mitt romney. >> well, you know, this is a weird challenge mitt romney's going to have. let's say he wraps this up in january, but it's not technically, but effectively has wrapped this up. he can donate what republican nominees in the past have done, which is immediately start moving back to the middle. you know, he's been trying to move. he's got to always be mindful of not making them mad. it makes for an awkward five months -- >> to get those delegates. >> a slow turn. >> got to collect those delegates. >> i still think there's something troubled in the waters here. i'm not sure if mitt's their guy. thank you, chuck todd, thank you, john heilemann, the greatest. coming up, what will actually happen if mitt romney wins the nomination? as i said, will there be a split in the republican party? that's our question for joe scarborough and mika brzezinski, coming up next. you're watching "hardball," live
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the republican party, just like i said, when newt gingrich was at 38, 39%, wasn't going to stand for that, they're not going to stand for the guy that has a 24% ceiling walking away with the nomination. anybody that thinks that it's going to be over after iowa and new hampshire if romney wins, does not understand the conservative base. there will be blood if mitt romney seems like the guy that's going to walk away with it. >> there will be blood. anyway, we're back. and that was my colleague, joe scarborough, yesterday, painting a not-so-rosy picture of what would happen if mitt romney coasted to a victory in this nominating fight, while so many in this party remain deeply opposed to him. if that were to happen, would it split the party, maybe even setting the course for a third
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party run? here he is right now joining us to discuss the state of the republican party and his own thoughts, morning joe himself, joe scarborough, and his partner in crime, mika brzezinski. thank you, mika. i've got to go with him, because you have now laid down the track. the track says the party will explode if it's mitt, because mitt is not enough conservative for the conservative party in this country. >> am i allowed to do what mitt does and take back my words like he did this morning? >> no, because you're a colleague and colleagues tell the truth. >> oh, gosh, okay. >> so what do you think? >> i think that you have a republican party that is badly scarred by a decade of george w. bush's leadership. you remember in 1999 what we were doing? we were talking about small government. we, along with clinton, balanced the budget, and we also, we talked about restraint and foreign policy. and yet, george w. bush got elected, we took $155 billion surplus to a $1.5 trillion deficit, he doubled the national debt. military adventurism across the globe. the republican party -- no, let
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me take that party, the conservative base is not going to have a replay of george w. bush. they're not going to have a replay of john mccain. and they're not going to sit back and just allow mitt romney to coast to the nomination. does that mean that romney can't make the sell with conservatives? no, i'm not saying that at all, but his focus after he wins iowa and new hampshire, if he does, better be to win over the conservative base and convince them, i will not be george w. bush. i will not be john mccain. >> but we know herbert walker bush, the first president bush, did the same exact thing you prescribed, read my lips, no new taxes, and then he did it! >> yet another reason for conservatives to feel burned. listen, chris -- >> why would you believe that a man who was a moderate governor in massachusetts, who did all this with a health care and abortion rights and funding and all those things, which the conservatives in this country, including a lot of independents don't like, is going to change
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somehow and become a barry goldwater conservative? >> for the same reason that a lot of conservatives saw a guy named ronald reagan who signed an abortion bill in california, who was actually skewered by the hard right for spending too much money, allowed taxes to be increased in california, when he came -- when he became president in 1981. he found his conservative voice. i see a smirk -- >> because i -- >> i'm not spending -- >> he's turning his back to you. >> that's his argument. >> no, that's his argument. >> i'm not spinning for him, i'm saying, that's his argument -- >> because we knew ronald reagan. >> right. >> you were friends with ronald reagan. >> a personal friend of mine. >> let me tell you, this guy mitt romney, is no ronl rald reagan. >> well, i was just about to say, you both knew ronald reagan, are any of these candidates ronald reagan? >> even ideologically, i don't think so. >> let's talk about where we are right now. people are undecided. we've got congressmen, iowa congressmen who can't make a decision on caucus day, chris matthews. this is a boring field.
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this is seriously -- it's deadly. it's deadly. >> you know what it reminds me of? replacement year in the nfl, remember "replacement year," the gene hackman movie. >> i think we're all feeling that, since members of the media -- >> we want a better show. >> we outweigh the people at the events. >> and by the way, it's not -- we're not just talking about the democrats. anybody that saw mike huckabee work a crowd, deliver a speech -- >> exactly, great characters. >> you would sit there, chris, and pat buchanan always talks about political athletes. . >> mm-hmm. >> we don't have political athletes in this field this year, whereas four years ago, they were all over the place. >> did you see christie out here, governor christie in new jersey -- >> there is a political athlete! >> people close to me, without naming them, called me up and said, there is a politician. >> but they're failing in every respect. it's not just that they aren't gifted speakers, it's that they're not organizing, it's that they're not putting up yard
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signs, it's that they're not putting up -- i had one guy tell me today that he wanted to support newt gingrich, and said to him, hey, newt, i want to support you, can i have a button, and newt said, yeah, you can go on newt.com and buy it for $4. >> $4 for a button. >> if you run a negative ad in the past in iowa, people would watch it and say, boy, that's nasty of you to do that, and it would probably flash back and hurt you a bit. there would be a price paid. at least 40 to 50% would go back negative. every time you whacked your point, you would get hurt a little bit. some gun powder would land on you. this time around with this citizened united court finding, you could run $2.8 million in advertising, as romney's friends are doing, against newt gingrich, destroying him without any fingerprints from romney. is that good for politics? you can destroy an enemy with a hidden weapon? >> no, i don't think so. and i think it's safe to say anybody that's watched my show knows, i have not been nice to newt gingrich over the past month. and yet, i started saying a week
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ago, there was something wrong with all of these super pacs being able to team up on this guy. if newt gingrich is going to lose, i want newt gingrich to lose on the debate stage, one on one, with a party of ideas. >> you're with me. >> wait a minute, is there anything wrong with these ads? is there anything incorrect? >> no, it's just that you can trash an opponent in tone. >> you said this on the show. >> isn't it true? >> if the information is correct, i think it could be -- >> let's look at the preview of coming attractions. we've got a general election coming where president obama is able to raise $1 billion. how much of that is super pac money, and he can waste romney without anybody saying who did it. is that okay? >> the process has flaws, but i want to know if these ads about newt gingrich have anything incorrect in them, because it seems to me there is a responsibility for people to fully understand this guy who seems to be surging in the polls, which i still can't believe. he's now losing, which makes more sense to me. >> at the same time, though, chris, you're exactly right. barack obama loves to say, i'm not raising a lot of money from
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wall street, of course, but the dnc is. the super pacs will. >> we're going to actually get to that in the show tonight. >> and the super pacs are going to be getting tens of millions of dollars the for barack obama. it's going to be wall street money, just like republican -- >> we're going to get to this. >> right. and then they're going to use wall street money to destroy the republican candidate, and then claim that the republican candidate is somehow enslaved by wall street. >> as part of our program of reaching all the eronlgs zones of american politics, we'll have debbie wasserman schultz on to explain if that's a good policy. joe and mika, you had a hell of a joe. i love being at java joe's. what came first? "morning joe" or java joe's? >> "morning joe," but just barely, because java joe's is when we launched. >> jams thousands of people in a room that only holds a hundred. >> we love having you here. >> it's the black show of the morning.
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>> we'll talk coming up about the barrage of ads aimed at newt gingrich, that have been unleashed out here this past week. we're going to look at the devastating effect and the whole question of the law that permits it. you're watching "hardball" from iowa, only on msnbc. when bp made a commitment to the gulf, we knew it would take time,
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back to "hardball." one of the most compelling stories of the iowa caucuses so far has been the relentless barrage of attack ads that took down newt gingrich. the majority of which came from the pro-romney super pac called restore our future. this is a sample you're going to see right now of what's been blanketing the airways out here in iowa. >> newt has a ton of baggage. he was fined $300,000 for ethics violations and took $1.6 million from freddie mac before it helped cause the economic meltdown. newt supports amnesty for illegal immigrants and teamed with nancy pelosi and al gore on global warming. ever notice how some people make a lot of mistakes?
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>> it was probably a mistake. i made a mistake. i've made mistakes at times. >> know what makes barack obama happy? newt gingrich's baggage. newt has more baggage than the airlines. as conservative "national review" says, "his weakness for half-baked, and not especially conservative ideas," made him a poor speaker of the house." "he appears unable transform, or even govern, himself." restore our future is responsible for this message. >> mitt romney's hands are completely clean of these ads, and all these ads aired in december, to completely devastating effect, taking newt gingrich from the 30 fact level to the teens level, a loss of 20%, and basically taking him out of the money. michael isikoff is a national reporter and john harris is the editor in chief of politico. it seems to me, michael isikoff,
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this is going the message out of iowa. the power of these third party or super pacs, where you don't put the candidate's name on it, don't put the contributors' name on it, the money is unlimited, and you can destroy your opponent if you have enough rich friends, legal, right? >> right. this is the message of this campaign. two figures really leap out after seeing those ads. $2.8 million, nearly $3 million. that was how much was spent on tv ads by restore our future, the super pac. $1.5 million, that was spent by the romney campaign. so the super pac, the romney super pac, spends nearly twice as much as the actual presidential campaign of the candidate himself. so that tells you a lot about the direction of this campaign, the roll of these super pacs, how they are going to be the dominant force in this presidential election. >> of course, the great irony is the people on the right, like
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gingrich, basically supported that court decision. they thought it was free speech, money is speech, as they see it. and it could have destroyed his campaign. we don't know until we see the results, but he could come in fourth or fifth tonight, after this pummeling he took out here. >> there's a couple of things. those ads were devastatingly effective, but for a couple of reasons. they were reinforced by a similar attack coming from ron paul. and the other is, a lot of the charges in those ads, the truth stings. it wasn't like these were wild distortions. that was, in fact, a pretty fair critique of gingrich's history. it wasn't one of those situations where something is just taken whole cloth or distorted in a really powerful way. >> suppose the same amount of money was spent by a super pac on behalf of newt gingrich that basically strdestroyed romney a guy who supported taxpayer-funded abortions, you know, did the whole thing with health care up in massachusetts, was a moderate up there, and then said he's masquerading now as a conservative. would that have been as
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effective, if he had that kind of money to throw in these ads? >> i'm sure it would have resonated, especially with conservatives that were receptive to that message. but you don't have accountability. candidates should own their messages. you should have accountability. all the efforts to reform campaign finance actually have diluted what i think is the most important principle, which is accountability. stand behind your words. >> it's one thing to have free speech, but you don't have your body and name attached to the speech. one of the founders of pro-romney pac, restore our future, is larry mccarthy, who produced that awful 1998 willie horton ad. let's listen to that baby from the past. >> bush and dukakis on crime. bush supports the death penalty for first-degree murderers. dukakis not only opposes the death penalty, he allowed first-degree murderers to have weekend passes from prison. one was willie horton, who murdered a boy in a robbery, stabbing him 19 times. >> well, that was a pretty effective ad, wasn't it, mike
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isikoff? and that's why one of the producers is the guy who's bringing us this set of adds for romney. >> right, there is something coming full circle here. but, look, the willie horton ads is one of those iconic moments in american politics that everybody remembers because it was so effective. and i think that this, you know, the newt gingrich ads, the attack ads, run just over the last month, may rank right up there. showing, vindicating the power of negative ads. i want to just pick up on something you were talking about before with john, about, you know, accountability for these things. the super pacs are supposed to be independent, they don't coordinate, but, look, the restore our future is founded by three former romney political aides. one of the chief fund-raisers for the romney presidential campaign leaves the campaign and then goes to work for restore our future. romney himself speaks at fund-raisers over the summer, for restore our future.
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so that tells you a lot about the connections between the campaigns and the super pacs. they're very closely related. and when the candidate himself speaks out, he's giving his implicit blessing, telling big donors out there, this is where i'd like the money to go. >> yeah. and jim baker running senior bush's campaign back in 1988, never called out the mccarthy people, the people running that american security agency campaign that was run, all those dirty ads. they never called up and said, please stop those dirty ads, they're hurting with us, because they liked those ads. anyway, thank you, michael isikoff, thank you to the great john harris from politico. up next, just hours away from the results of the iowa caucuses tonight, what can we expect to see tonight? a guideline to tonight's events, coming up here on "hardball." you're watching it only on msnbc, on caucus night.
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i'm seema moody with your cnbc market wrap. the dow surges 179 points, the s&p 500 up 19, and the nasdaq gaining 43. construction spending jumped in november, up 1.2% as builders broke gunshot wound on more single family homes and apartments. it was the biggest gain since june of 2010. the nation's factories also a bright spot for today. the december report from the institute of supply management showing manufacturing activity rose to 53.9%. a reading above 50 does indicate growth. and the federal reserve will soon be updating investors four times a years about the short-term interest rate outlook. according to minutes released today, the central bank may also be considering new steps to help boost the economy. and starbucks shares ending the someday lower. they'll be charging more for coffee in the northeast and the sun belt. they blame the increase on higher commodity costs and
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higher revenue cost generations. now back to you on "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." tonight it's been a long, strange journey out here in iowa. here we are, hours away from the iowa caucuses. we're going to look into exactly what we can expect tonight right now, and what kind of boost, perhaps, iowa might provide to the various campaigns. steve king is a republican u.s. congressman from iowa. where he serves right now. and david yepsen is a longtime, with perhaps permanent expert out here. he's a veteran reporter of iowa politics. congressman, i know there's been a lot of talk about indecisiveness. i'm going to measure yours. you're going to the caucuses tonight, right? >> mm-hmm. >> a couple of hours? >> mm-hmm. >> who are you going to vote for?
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>> i haven't made a decision. i've decided to not make a decision and it's definitive. >> when are you going to make a decision? >> i made a decision yesterday that i wouldn't do an endorsement. once i reached that level of not doing an endorsement, it really would be foolish to say what decision i might have made. >> how can you expect the republican electorate out there, who you will call upon to vote the republican nominee come next november when you, a professional, a public official, can't bring -- summon up the excitement to say you're excited for this person. >> the founding fathers envisioned that we would get together and have meetings and have engaging dialogue, and we would make decisions actually in the room, after we waived the wisdom of our colleagues. and there'll be a lot of wisdom waived tonight. >> but the first thing you do when you go in is vote. let me ask you. is this congressman a good representative to the state right now in terms of indecision? i saw a number today that 41% of the people, like, going into the day, today, haven't made up their mind yet.
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>> i think that's true. you know, i do think they take this very seriously. it's been a hard decision for republicans. they like a lot of the candidates, so they're trying to sort it out. but there is also something to be said, chris, for sitting down and talking with your neighbors. you know, those people influence your decision a lot. >> tonight. >> in politics. yeah. >> you mean the campaign is yet to come? >> they're going to hear speeches from representatives of the campaign. they're going to talk to their friends, who do you think, chris? what do you think, dave? that's part of the process. >> we're not getting anywhere here. let's go to this. there have been three candidates who have had very successful campaigns so far. let's stimulate the fact that romney has had a good campaign out here. that paul has run a very good campaign and a long one. and santorum might be the great hero of tonight. santorum having lost a race for re-election in the senate in pennsylvania has come back out here, possibly winning tonight. romney wasn't even going to get in this race until about a month ago. he's here. and ron paul has excited this
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libertarian base into probably its highest number it's had so far. tell me about it. what's that say about iowa, that these three people are doing well out here and the others aren't? >> well, i would say hats off to all of them for the competition that they provided there. and ron paul's been here about five years. this is actually his third go-around in iowa. so he has invested money in here and he's built a good organization and they're loyal and out everywhere all the time. mitt romney has that foundation also from four to five years ago. he had an excellent operation four years ago, and he's reconstructed some of that, but it's not as good as it was four years ago. and rick santorum has gone at this the classical way, one county at a time, every county. >> 99. >> when i walk into a room in my own district and he speaks to somebody in the front row by first name, they're my constituent and i've never seen them before, that tells me something. >> yesterday morning, mitt romney confidently predicted a win in iowa. this morning he appeared on "morning joe" and said on a measure cautious note, interesting you said it may not be as good a campaign as last
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time. let's watch mitt romney, who many people consider one of the top three finishers tonight, the way things are going in the polls. >> if all goes well, i hope i become the nominee and i take on the white house. but at this stage, i think it's hard to predict exactly what's going to happen. but i think i'll be among the top group. i don't know if that's one, two, or three, but all three of us will get a good sendoff going into new hampshire and south carolina. it's a long road. >> you know what he won't say, but the people i interview -- i've only interviewed so many people, but the anecdotal evidence i get out here, you ask someone why they're for romney, they say, i'm a moderate. he doesn't say it, but they do. the people with ron paul are libertarians. they want government off their back and out of their face. and people for rick santorum are obviously attracted to their religious commitments. there's three different wings of the party. the moderate business base, who show up on time and get things organized. the libertarian people, who are almost romantic about barry goldwater republicanism, get it out of my face. and the religious people, who really think about politics as a
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religious sort of commitment. how do you put them all together? >> first of all, every one of those groups is looking for somebody who can get elected. and that further complicates the equation here. this caucus, to me, is fascinating because this republican party is sorting out itself. where does it stand on immigration? how does it want to deal with it? it's a tough issue. there's good arguments on all sides of it. and the internationalists versus the nationalists. that's been a fault line in the republican party for generations. so the ron paul bring the troops home message against a more internationalist view. they're trying to sort that out. and that adds to the complexity of trying to figure out who's going to win this thing. >> what is the iowa character? is there a character that distinguishes this state from, say, new jersey? massachusetts? what's different? >> well, one thing is, we are rooted in the land here, in a way that's a little bit different. and i sometimes explain iowa stubborn by knowing that those of us are decent from those who came across the prairie in a
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covered wagon are here to live free or die. there's a certain independence in that. the further you are away from government, the more likely you are to be independent from government. they want that. and we have full-spectrum conservatives here that carry about the libertarian side, they care about the side that's more represented by mitt romney, but that's something i think se merging in the republican party. i think dana's identified the distinctions. but there's emergie ining constitutional conservatives -- full-spectrum institutional conservatives. >> we're watching your vote. it may be the leading indicator. you might be the cow bell for which way this place is going. congressman king, thank you for joining us. david yepsen, the monarch of knowledge. up next, president obama's out on the campaign trail talking to voters in iowa today and ohio tomorrow. has the president crafted a winning re-election strategy yet, he's had some time to think about. this is "hardball" from des moines, iowa, only on msnbc. ♪ he was a 21st century global nomad ♪
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gregory is moderator of nbc's "meet the press," and for many years, nbc's white house correspondent. can you give us -- tom defrank, a great reporter for the "new york daily news" says the support going to try to do grass roots organizing, reviving the grass roots. i get those e-mails, too, all those organizing e-mails, and also go after portraying the republicans as richies, basically rich people, elitists, full and going after capitol hill republicans. is that a fair look at the three-pronged attack that he will follow? >> the republicans are doing a good job all on their own demonstrating how important elitists are to them and how they want to singularly focus keeping the wind at the backs of the wealthy and most fortunate. we have been like four years ago focused on standing up to the most significant grass roots presidential campaign in history. we've been here in iowa for months. we had eight offices open, 350,000 phone calls, 4,000 one-on-one meetings, and the one-on-one meeting for us is sitting down with the voter,
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understanding what makes them tick, what's important to them and engaging them and getting them involved in recruiting other people. 1,200 meetings like house parties and organizational meet >> do you need iowa come november. >> >> iowa is part of any combination of math, and it's a battleground state. we're organized in all the battleground states, and the difference between our campaign and the republican campaigns is we have an appeal to working families and the middle class, and the republicans want to return to the same failed policies that brought us to the precipice of economic disaster. >> david, for some reason i'm on the e-mail list. i get all these organizing things and social networking, very exciting for the people involved in it. i just like to monitor it. how is the president going to take control that have political operation? i haven't seen him act as leader of the democratic party, for example. i don't sense that role. he doesn't seem comfortable with being head of a political party. >> well, i think that role is going to emerge. i think they are going to coalesce around him. don't forget the president will have approaching $1 billion to
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spend in his campaign. >> in his name. >> in his name and resources in the party's name. he's going to have resources and organization what. he's got is a pretty rotten economy right now. >> yeah. >> and real questions even within his own party about his -- his own leadership, about his vision ultimately, to match up to his potential, to his promise to be a phonz transformational leader and he'll face a tough election campaign against potentially mitt romney if he's the nominee who at least will be fighting on the train that he wants to fight on and that's the economy. i don't think there's anybody in the white house close to the president who doesn't recognize this is going to be a very tough fight. >> do you think it's going to be the same ticket this time, obama and biden? >> oh, absolutely. i mean -- >> did you ever get those assurances from the president? has he ever said it to anyone? >> throughout the president's entire campaign, organization, throughout the leadership of political folks attached to the president, i know, i'm 100% confident that joe biden and barack obama will going to run together as a team. >> so hillary clinton -- >> they are governing as a team. >> hillary clinton won't joining
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the ticket? >> no, i don't believe so. >> let me ask you the negative question. >> but i also want to disagree with david's characterization of the president's campaign and the fact that -- i don't know how you can say that -- that the base -- that democratic voters question the president's vision. there is such a dramatic contrast, david, between the direction that president barack obama will take this country and has been taking this country and the direction that -- that republicans would take us. i mean, president obama -- >> hold on, hold on. i'm not a politician. that's argument. i'm offering analysis. that's a different deal. can you make your average. i'm giving you analysis based on my reporting what have the president faces. you're offering argument. that's fine. i'm not here to debate you in that regard. >> no, no, but to push back. >> part of the strategy to unite the party before he takes it into battle. doesn't he have to do that just as any politician has to do that? >> there's a reason why every single poll in iowa, not one in the republican field beats barack obama head to head. that's because the american people and the democratic base in particular understands that barack obama's in there swinging for them, standing up for the
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middle class and making sure that we fight to bring the economy from 750,000 jobs lost a month to three years later we've had 22 straight months of private sector job growth. we've begun to turn the economy around. people know that president obama is fighting for them. they know that any one of the republicans, especially mitt romney, is fighting to -- >> it is interesting, chris, david, as a reporting matter, as republicans they will concede the fact that a lot of people like this president personally. they like him to succeed. that runs counter to a lot what have you hear here on the hustings which is, you know, we've got to get power back to reverse what he's done. >> the toughest challenge for the president is the economy and if the unemployment rate is going up to 9% by the end of this year, that's a real challenge, isn't it? >> the economy and jobs is the number one issue on everybody's minds. the president has a record that has taken us from being in a really impossibly difficult situation, the worst economic problem, the who the set of problems inherited at once by any president since fdr, and now
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we've begun to turn the corner. what i think americans understand that we don't need to do is go back to exconclusively focusing on tax policy that helps the most north nat. >> well said. >> thank you, u.s. congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz from florida and david gregory, msnbc -- actually "meet the press" moderator. when we returns let me finish with the power of destruction and how money, lots of money can, destroy democracy. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. is an rc robotic claw. my high school science teacher made me what i am today. our science teacher helped us build it. ♪ now i'm a geologist at chevron, and i get to help science teachers. it has four servo motors and a wireless microcontroller. over the last three years we've put nearly 100 million dollars into american education. that's thousands of kids learning to love science. ♪ isn't that cool? and that's pretty cool. ♪
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let me finish tonight with this. tonight we get a preview of coming attractions, not the fun stuff you get at movies, not the lure of romance, the thrill of high adventure or a sherlock holmes style battle of wits. no, what we're going to get is a preview of a 2012 presidential election in witwiner isn't the candidate comes off the best in debate or who woos the american people with a brilliant campaign of persuasion and hope. no, what we're going to see tonight is the power of destruction, how spending millions of dollars in negative advertising gets your guy elected without having him take the personal responsibility for the blood he spilled, for the attack he's waged to destroy his opponent. so get ready, set, go. whoever wins the republican nomination will know what works. kill the rival with negative ads and get your friends, your rich friends, to pay for it. the victim of what happened here in iowa isn't newt gingrich. it's any semblance of true democracy, and what we've watched here is

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